Growing up is hard enough, but what if you looked like a squid monster? That’s the life of poor Cthu-Louise, a young girl who unfortunately got her looks from her father, Cthu-Lou, who had a run-in with an elder god while doing some routine plumbing work. Now Cthu-Louise struggles to find her place in a world that hates her just for being who she is. What if she could be normal? Would that solve all her problems?
Kids can be absolutely cruel and we see so many examples of this in Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise. You just want to give the poor girl a hug and tell her everything will be okay, even if some of her classmates are complete jerks. This one-shot takes you through a number of emotions, ranging from anger to sadness to pure happiness. You’re instantly along for the ride with the main character as she finds adversity in every area of her life.
Things wouldn’t be so bad for her if her parents were more understanding. Her home life is just as bad if not worse than her school life. You’d think that there would be some safety or love there, but her father has practically checked out and her mother is resentful of the freaks she’s living with. Deep down, Cthu-Louise is a normal kid and wants everything that every other child would want, but she’s denied them because of her appearance and that’s absolutely heartbreaking.
Cthu-Louise’s innocence comes out wonderfully in Emi Lenox’s artwork. This is why you’re on her side from the start. You can feel the weight that this poor girl carries on her shoulders and how she so desperately wants to fit in. This is shown in her meek glances at other kids and the embarrassed look once some of them make fun of her.
This turns to rage as Cthu-Louise embraces her destiny as an emissary of a Cthulhu god. This is where the one-shot takes a turn into some dark horror. Under any other circumstances, it might seem extreme, but considering everything she’s been through, it’s more akin to Stephen King’s Carrie than anything else.
That innocence is shattered once she’s pushed too far. Colorist Dave Stewart makes a red bruise stand out against Cthu-Louise’s green skin. This is something that should not be there and it serves as a lightning rod for anger and hatred.
You can see a marked difference in Cthu-Louise’s demeanor as the verbal abuse takes its toll over the story. In the beginning, she’s a brighter green, but by the end, she’s a dingy, dirty shade, almost sickly in nature.
Cthu-Louise hears the elder god in her head, calling to her in an ominous and powerful voice. Letterer Todd Klein gives you a good idea as to how invasive and frightening this creature is before it ever shows up on the page. Its words appear as big, neon green letters that practically take over any panel they’re in.
The world of Black Hammer continues to expand and it lends itself to a variety of genres. This one-shot delves into horror through the lens of an innocent and abused child. It works like a great Twilight Zone episode, with some nice twists and turns in the story, especially with the end. I’m excited to see what else writer Jeff Lemire has in store for this world.